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+translate page mock-up

At the May 2010 Ubuntu Developer Summit, in Brussels, Matthew Revell and Charline Poirier interviewed four people heavily involved in the translation of Ubuntu.

Matthew and Charline presented each participant with mock-ups depicting the Launchpad Translations team's proposed changes to the +translate page.

The mock-ups

There were three HTML+CSS mock-ups depicting proposed changes to the views seen by a translator and a reviewer.

Download the mock-ups: translate-page-2010.tar.gz (Firefox only)


The translator view


The translator view -- zoomed in


The reviewer view


Four people took part in our research interviews at UDS-M:

The commission

The Launchpad Translations team asked us to show experienced Ubuntu translators a mock-up of proposed changes to Launchpad's +translate page and tell them:



The proposed design was well received. Each participant said they thought it was an improvement on the current design. However, there were some reservations and suggestions for improvement.

The good:

Mixed feelings:

The bad:



Give more control over saving

The current +translate page has a single "Save and continue" button at the bottom of the page. This saves all the strings on the page and loads the next set of strings from the template.

The mock-up proposes automatic saving whenever focus is removed from the text edit box.

Neither of these options offers the control that the subjects wanted. The subjects had three primary concerns:

In response to these concerns, I suggest the following changes to the proposed design:

More strings on one page

The current design presents a new set of strings to translate or review, if available, when the user presses the "Save and continue" button.

One of the suggestions for the proposed design is that completed translations should pop off the page, with a replacement translation popping onto the page at the bottom.

I suggest that the Translations team:

reduce server load with a drawback of increasing (around double) the time interval during which a message is vulnerable to multiple submission conflicts. I think that we can live with that.

Better explain the terminology

The meaning of the some of the terminology on the mock-up was not obvious, even to experienced translators.

I suggest that the Translations team use mouse-overs and help pop-ups to clarify their usage of the terms:

Reconsider the need for the unzoomed translator view

Each of the participants was surprised by how little information is available in the proposed translator view. This was compounded by none of the subjects realising that the numbers in the left-hand column are links to an expanded view. Similarly, the "Expand all" link was felt to be unobvious.

The proposed translator view lacks the context a translator needs to produce good work. Requiring that translators click an, as yet obscure, link to see that information seems like an unnecessary barrier.

I suggest that further testing be done to determine the usefulness of the stripped-back translator view and, if it is retained, how best to make the further information available with little effort.

Make it easier to see who did what

Each participant stressed the importance they place on who has provided a suggestion, when they are reviewing. Each subject felt that the proposed design improves the clarity of the page. However, it was noted that moving the credits to one side makes it harder to tie a suggestion to its author, particularly where there are several suggestions.

I suggest that alternating coloured backgrounds be used to tie each suggestion to its credit.

Integrate team glossaries

Although this is not part of the current or proposed designs, three participants spoke about the role of translation team glossaries in ensuring high quality translations.

Translation teams have created and shared their own tools to make glossary look-up easier. However, use of these tools requires additional effort and are only available to those who are already involved in the translation team, making them of little use to those new translators who likely have the greatest need for the glossaries.

Although it has the potential to be a big job, I suggest that the Launchpad Translations team consider how to integrate translation team glossaries into the +translate page, whether that be a simple search box or, perhaps more usefully, individual word recommendations automatically drawn from the glossary and displayed below the English string.

Reconsider grouping of plural form variations

The proposed design simplifies the review of translations that have multiple plural forms by providing one radio button for all those plural forms, allowing the reviewer to accept or dismiss them all in one go.

This was partially welcomed with the reservation that an error in one plural form would require rejecting any other plural variations that were perfectly good.

I suggest that the Launchpad Translations team consider allowing reviewers to edit individual plural forms in-line, so that plural variations can be accepted or rejected in one action while allowing the reviewer to make adjustments as necessary.

What is missing

The research participants noted that certain information was missing. It is likely that some or all of this is due to the limitations of the mock-ups.

These included:

Interview transcripts

The interview transcripts are available as an OpenOffice spreadsheet.


Strategy/Research/UDS-M/Translations (last edited 2010-05-28 20:20:25 by adiroiban)